On the Lookout
A red fox runs through an open field
To be a successful wildlife photographer means you need to spend a lot of time in the field. I see lots of folks that stay in a spot for a few minutes grab a couple of photos and move on. I spend hours observing and watching, but it is almost always worth it. Photographing wildlife is all about putting in the time to be able to get the shots.
A red fox mom and kit share a tender moment outside the den
A few weekends ago I got some of my best photos of a fox in a special encounter early on a Saturday morning. This fox family has a very set routine. When the kits emerge from the den one parent stands watch close by on the crest of the hill above the den. The den is at the edge of a large field and a small gulley runs through the field. This makes a great trench to be in to approach the foxes without being intrusive. The other parent if not hunting likes to sit in the field on the other side of the gulley and keep watch from a further distance.
The parent resting on the hill above the den
On this morning I have positioned myself in the gulley and both parents were fully aware of my presence but were unperturbed by me being there. I was far enough away from the den as to not be a concern, was not make any sudden or quick movements, and was fairly quiet and still. They still cast glances my way on occasion but also took quick naps as the kits played in front of the den.
A parent alerts the den of danger
As I sat and watched the kits play the parent in the field started alerting the den with a series of short loud yips, the kits retreated to the den and I watched as the parent ran nervously back and forth in the field, stopping every few moments to make an alert call. As I looked around I saw someone up early that Saturday morning walking their dog and was beginning to cross through the field. The fox started making a commotion quickly persuading the person and their dog to swing wide away from the fox and after closely watching them leave the fox settled again. After ensuring the danger was far gone and the kits were not in harm's way the parent set out to hunt for some food. It spent a few moments stalking a ground squirrel unsuccessfully in the field in front of me before leaving to find some quarry elsewhere.
A red fox on the scent of its prey
The encounter did make for some great photos! If I had simply found the foxes taken a few photos and moved on I would have missed photographing the fox barking in the field, it moving gracefully across the open field, and photographing it hunting. I stayed with these foxes for over two hours this morning, but success only comes with putting in the time.